Arsenic in Rice Makes Pasta Look Good Again

rice bowlAnyone ready for some second helpings of arsenic? You and you and you? Come and get it! We already panicked last week over arsenic in apple juice. Now it's time for arsenic in rice. RICE. I never saw that one coming -- did you?

Yeah. It wasn't on my radar, but researchers have been looking into it. They say that because of the way it's grown, rice sucks up arsenic from the water-filled soil like crazy. At this point I'm not even sure how much I want to know about arsenic in rice -- I really, really like rice. (I'm exciting like that!) But look I must! So tell us, scientists, how bad is it? And will this turn me off from eating rice?


Okay, so as usual this takes some 'splaining. Researchers took at look at pregnant women who ate rice and measured how much arsenic showed up in their urine. The women who ate a regular serving of rice (half a cup) had arsenic showing up in their urine two days later. And it was enough arsenic to make me cringe but not panic -- as much as if they'd been drinking 4 1/4 cups of water a day containing the maximum allowable level of arsenic set by the EPA.

Just like with apple juice, the FDA doesn't regulate how much arsenic is allowed in rice. But the rice industry wants you to know there's nothing to worry about here. "There's never been a study that showed that arsenic levels in rice were at a level where consumers should be concerned," says Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd of the USA Rice Federation. Plus, she adds, what about Asia, where people eat 200 pounds of rice a year? They all seem fine. But even she thinks regulating arsenic levels in rice is a good idea.

Okee dokey, then. I guess I'll keep eating rice -- organic rice, anyway. That always seems to be the less toxic route. But I have a little favor to ask. Could we please just get all the possible foods that might have arsenic out on the table? And sort out what should be regulated? And then we can move on with our lives. I would like that very much. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have me some pasta for lunch now.

Are you sick of hearing about arsenic contamination in food, or do you want to know more?


Image via IRRI Images/Flickr

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